Taboos by their very nature involve shame. Exposing some secret bigotry, denouncing a man as a bigot on the flimsiest of grounds, involves sport. The bear struggles and fights back. He tries to understand what’s happening. He cries and apologizes. There’s shame and guilt on display. But take that away and the inquisitioners have nothing to work with.
There is no drama in denouncing a man who has no shame and no secret fears of being dragged out of the crowd to be charged with disrupting its social harmony. Denouncing Andrew Dice Clay and Alec Baldwin, two of the actors in Woody Allen’s next movie, is pointless. Neither of the men care. Both have public personas built on being politically incorrect. But denouncing Paula Deen proved to be a rich feast of degradation and humiliation for the politically correct crowd. And power.
The entire sport isn’t about racism, it’s about power. The witch hunt isn’t about fighting evil, it’s about turning to a face in the crowd and then dragging them out as a human sacrifice to the collective power of the crowd and the moral authority of the inquisitioners. The victim is denounced for secretly lacking the same commitment to social values as everyone else in the crowd. And everyone in the crowd recommits to those values with a mixture of fear and triumph. Triumph over the vulnerability of another human being and fear that their own hypocrisies, their own little sins, will be exposed.
Mass hysteria of this kind is built on elevating one value above all others. It gives its crusaders the sanction to behave in the ugliest possible ways for the greater good. It silences all dissent through a moral power that isn’t truly moral, but is nothing more than calculated hysteria enforced by terror.
Racism is still a problem in America, but the Anti-Racists don’t care about it. Hysterias are never about solving real problems, but about using complicity and conformity to enforce a moral order. The new moral order uses charges of bigotry to destroy its enemies and to spread fear, but it never really bothers to do anything about real racism. It has a thousand enforcement arms to investigate and denounce bigotry, but it rarely bothers with real discrimination. Instead it harasses businesses that conduct background checks or refuse to hire employees with criminal records. The goal, as always, is not to deal with bigotry, but to spread fear and uncertainty, to create compliance through paranoia.
The Zimmerman case was supposed to be one more reminder that racism is the gravest threat to America since the Y2K virus. And however the case ends, the political correct police will have won by once again asserting the supremacy of their value, combating racism, over all other values, including such obscure trinkets like telling the truth. The very existence of the trial and the months of dishonest news coverage has once again enforced a mandatory hysteria about the racism menace.
Next week it will probably be something else. Perhaps the Voting Rights Act again, a 60s measure that is more dated than the The Ronettes. Or another local crime story blown up out of proportion and turned into yet another teachable moment. It doesn’t much matter. The purpose of the entire exercise was never justice, it was about intimidation and brainwashing. Racism in America, at and from all the country’s races, will continue in diminishing amounts for the foreseeable future following a predictable trajectory that had nothing to do with all the sensitivity seminars and other profiteering elements of the racism industry. Meanwhile the racism industry, its shadow twin, will go on expanding and getting bigger. There will be more money, more seminars, more laws and more show trials. The new frontier of bigotry is gay rights and there will be plenty of power and fear to be gained from the next wave of lawsuits, firings, boycotts and morality mobs.
America is at once becoming more racially sane and more racially insane. It is becoming less racist and more race obsessed. Its best and brightest often appear to have few abilities other than spotting and denouncing bigotry. The country is paradoxically becoming post-racial and racially obsessed.